NEWS1 December 2010

"Research can get by without asking questions"

Welcome to the first of our new online debates. It’s your chance to have a say on the research industry’s most controversial topics. Each month we propose a motion, ask two research professionals to kick start the debate and then it’s your turn to make your case.

THE DECEMBER DEBATE
“Research can get by without asking questions”
Market research is rooted in the idea of asking people what they think or feel or do. But in recent years declining survey response rates, new understanding of how our minds work and the explosion of social media have made the shortcomings of traditional research more prominent and more problematic. Some are even predicting that we are witnessing the slow death of survey research. So as ‘asking’ loses ground to ‘listening’, which approach will win out in the long run? As it becomes easier to track organic word of mouth and real-life behaviour, is there any point in asking people what they think they think?

How to participate

1. Consider the arguments. Just click on the photos below to read

2. Cast your vote. You’ll find the voting panel on the right of this page.

3. Have your say. Return to this page to add your comments below.

For the
motion
Against
the motion

Annelies Verhaeghe
Senior consultant
InSites Consulting

Jeffrey Henning
Founder
Vovici

@RESEARCH LIVE

4 Comments

10 years ago

I'm against the motion. We might be able to 'get by' with listening, but that isn't really enough is it? Listening is great, but in certain situations we need to ask questions too. For example, to find out who people are in order to aid targeting. Or to elicit their response to a new concept, not seen before. Plus, you'll be surprised how many consumers actually like being asked their opinion... having their say.

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10 years ago

The motion is 90% correct, but the other 10% means I have to vote against. In my world, user experience, 'watching' rather than 'listening' is the most common modality. We observe user behaviour in order to understand the ergonomic aspects of the user experience. But we also need to explore other factors like engagement and persuasion. Without the ability to ask questions about people's actions and behaviour we're only able to create a pass/fail outcome in terms of usability. Not very useful as input to our client's design approach. Also, and I know this is more of an emotional argument, it just feels darned rude to conclude on the desires, expectations and motivations of consumers without drawing them into the conversation.

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10 years ago

We all have a number of senses. Is "watching" better than "hearing" or "touching"? No, it's just different. It's nice to have new and developing "senses" in MR of course - such additions can only add to our understanding of the world around us. And conversely, in each case, a "sense" would be sorely missed if it wasn't there,,, So let's not fall into the trap of believing there needs to be a winner; such things complement each other and are certainly not mutually exclusive. I vote against.

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10 years ago

The problem is that what people *think* and what they *do* are two completely different things. For example, a person goes into a shop, walks round relatively quickly, looking at a couple of items, then walks out again. Now an observer might reckon that said person didn't find what he was looking for; or that he was comparing prices. But actually asking the person what he was doing might uncover that: - he was checking the item in the flesh before buying online - he couldn't find what he wanted - he was hoping someone would come over and actually talk him through the product specs and actually sell it to him. Without asking, we really wouldn't know.

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